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Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean: a study of the novel major themes

Simmons, K. (1974) Walter Pater’s Marius the Epicurean: a study of the novel major themes. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis is concerned with Walter Pater’s only completed, novel, Marius the Epicurean. Although the novel is set in the Antonine period of Ancient Rome, it is to some extent an account of Pater's own philosophical development, and I have considered it, first, as autobiography. After a discussion of the textual history of the novel, and its place in Pater’s proposed fictional trilogy, I have examined the philosophical content in more detail, tracing the course of Marius's philosophic 'Journey', and relating it to Pater's reading of German philosophy. I have then gone on to look at it as a religious' novel, examining it as a reflection of Pater's, anthropological attitude towards religion, and also as a reflection of nineteenth century religious controversy. Pater was looking for a 'religious phase possible for the modern mind', and I have attempted to assess how far he followed Arnold in replacing conventional religious belief by 'culture', defining, in doing this, what 'culture' meant to Pater. Finally, I have discussed Marius in relation to Pater's other fiction, tracing recurring themes, in particular the themes of death, the woman and corruption. Thus the thesis attempts to isolate particular aspects of this novel, and then to relate them to wider issues.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:27

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